The Big Story: Positive treatment
Amid all the war-talk and concerns about borders and water, the Cabinet on Wednesday approved changes to a piece of legislation that was much less noticed but is worth paying attention to. The HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill was introduced in 2014 with the aim of giving legal sanctity to several provisions that have, in the past, been enforced through executive orders. Its primary focus is on ensuring that Indians who are living with HIV or AIDS have access to welfare while also laying down the law criminalising discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS and affirming the right not to disclose their status unless compelled to by a court.
The Bill brings a rights-based approach to AIDS treatment, although it only requires Central and state governments to provide treatment "as far as possible". It expanded the definition of those who are eligible for government treatment while including penal provisions for insurers who deny insurance to a person with HIV or AIDS. On the disclosure side, it includes a jail term for those who are proved to be discriminating based on HIV or AIDS and provides for informed consent and confidentiality regarding treatment.
Laws only go so far, of course. The stigma of having HIV or AIDS in India remains intense, despite having the worlds third-largest population of people with either. And that stigma isn't just social: it frequently means that patients end up having to cough up much more money for either insurance or medical treatment simply because of their condition.
Some places even simply turn away people with HIV or AIDS This law makes that sort of discrimination criminal, while also easing the process by which people living with HIV or AIDS get access to treatment. Even if it cannot do away with the stigma itself, the law offers a clear legal recourse and should loom large as a threat for insurers and hospitals that don't recognise the evils of turning down or discriminating against people with HIV or AIDS.
- Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has a pat phrase targeted at Prime Minister Narendra Modi that might come back to bite him: khoon ki dalali. (Literally, someone who trades in blood).
- Dawn would have us believe that there was an "extraordinary confrontation" between the civilian leadership and the military in Pakistan over the country's growing isolation.
- The Qaumi Ekta Dal did after all merge with the Samajwadi Party, bolstering the belief that Chief Minister Akhilesh was not on the winning side of the most recent spat.
- Amma watch: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is making "gradual progress" after much specialised treatment at a hospital in Chennai.
- Implement all of Justice Lodha panel's recommendations, or we will pass order, the Supreme Court told the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
- Sushant Singh in the Indian Express says any breakdown in the ceasefire at the Line of Control will make infiltration much harder to manage.
- A leader in Mint offers five lessons India should learn from the past that will help it handle the problem of debt.
- "As a people, Hindus have rarely displayed exemplary resolve, and this casualness has often intruded into national security," writes Swapan Dasgupta in the Telegraph.
- What we have today in India is a selective preservation of property rights, where the least advantaged amongst us also bears the greatest burden, writes Suhrith Parthasarathy in the Hindu.
Not just khichuri. Priyadarshini Chatterjee points out that Durga Puja food is a lot more vibrant than you think.
"In homes where annabhog is forbidden, the absence of khichuri is made up for with an assortment of sweetmeats and savouries like gaja, perakia stuffed with kheer, radhaballabi, nimki, ledikeni and more. Sweets and other delicacies are usually made at home by Brahmin confectioners equipped with recipes that have been passed down through generations. “At one point nearly a hundred different kinds of delicacies were offered as Bhog, in our family,” said Deb. “Many of these recipes are now lost.”
Underneath the rituals, there is an intimate note to the bhog offered to the goddess. Quintessentially, Durga Puja is a private, familial affair, a moment that marks the homecoming of goddess Uma from her abode in Kailash. The mood, therefore, is one of happy reunion. The idea is to pamper her during her fugacious stay. This familial love best finds expression in the food offered to Durga."